Words of experience that we should all heed.

Last year I began a side-line as a radio presenter for Teacher Hug Radio, a new internet radio station for teachers created by Paul *When the Adults Change* Dix.

I loved doing my show and there is more information about it here: https://lenabellina.wordpress.com/2021/08/07/the-i-factor-in-your-wellbeing/

This summer and after over a year on air, I made the difficult decision to take a pause from the show in order to follow my own wellbeing advice and give myself a reasonable chance of having enough time and energy to devote to my new role as a head teacher of two primary schools.

You can still listen to my back catalogue via the Teacher Hug listen again facility if you are keen to get the I Factor back into YOUR wellbeing. Time may have passed but the key message doesn’t: YOU matter and YOU need to do what works for you so that you can give those around you and yourself the health and happiness that we all deserve.

There is one story that I didn’t get to amplify on the show from a very dear friend and colleague who has been a tireless advocate for promoting well-being and mental health, Head Teacher Caroline Fothergill.

I was absolutely shocked to get a response to a tweet last week that alerted me to the fact that she recently suffered a stoke and is now off work from her role as head teacher. When I contacted her to ask more, she requested that I share her story and reflections so that others might learn from what she has been through.

This blog post is therefore written so that you can hear Caroline’s voice and the words below are hers. Get well soon, my lovely friend and I look forward to more antics and laughs with you very soon… whether it’s telling inspectors why learning about rainforests in a Scottish schools is not an infringement of any rules….or tracking down car keys between school and Tesco!!!

1. Those closest to you love you – and they love you deeply and unconditionally . They want you not just be in the world but be in their world. You have a responsibility to them to look after yourself. They need you as part of their landscape.

2. Taking yourself to the limits , irrespective of the altruistic reasons that motivate you , is misguided and counterproductive. Every extra hour, day, week spent in your school beyond what is needed or required will lead you to an exhaustion where your body will turn against you and shout “ enough!”

3. You can give of yourself to the children and young people you work with, but you must not give up yourself.

4. Kindness is the salve to your soul. I am humbled and somewhat overwhelmed by those who have reached out to me. Vulnerability is ok- it’s the understudy to your leading role and yet equally as important.

5. Relationships are all. I had a difficult experience with a hospital physician who dismissed me and told me I had a psychogenic headache. Walk that road with people- and never ever forget how you make people feel. Compassion as well as competence.

6. Stop and notice the beauty of this world and those in it. Be full of hope because nothing and no one is guaranteed.

7.Keep on laughing . I have laughed so much this past month with my family and friends – usually at my expense! Laughter is good for the soul.

8. The wee small hours when thoughts become worries, can be lonely but rest assured they pass and every day is a new dawn and a new opportunity.

9. Other people can step into your role. They might not do things your way but they deserve the opportunity to try out their own shoes. Your shoes are not there to fill – you will need them for your own journey, wherever that may take you.

10. Forgive yourself when you have made the wrong choice, said the wrong word, responded in the wrong way. Afford others that same forgiveness

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